How to Apply for Public Assistance in Florida

by Jeannine Mancini
Woman with calculator filling out form

Public assistance in Florida includes the Food Assistance Program, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and Medicaid. The Food Assistance Program helps you purchase food, TANF provides cash benefits and Medicaid is the federal health care program. Each program has its own eligibility criteria, including income and asset limits. You must have a Social Security number, be a U.S. citizen, U.S. national or qualified alien, and be a Florida resident to receive benefits in the state.

ACCESS Florida

The Florida Department of Children and Families administers the Automated Community Connection to Economic Self Sufficiency system. ACCESS Florida allows you to check your eligibility for public assistance, apply for benefits and manage your benefits 24 hours a day. At MyFlorida.com, you can create a My ACCESS Florida account to submit an online application. Enter your name and select a username and password to set up the account.

Application and Necessary Information

After creating an ACCESS account, you can apply for benefits. Check the boxes indicating which benefits you want to apply for, including Food Assistance Program, TANF and Medicaid. You'll only need to complete a single application if you select multiple benefits. You can always go back and apply for additional benefits at a later date. The application requests information about you and the people in your household. You'll need to list which family members are applying for benefits and provide their Social Security numbers. The application requests information such as your monthly income from all sources, money you have in the bank and vehicles you own. The information also asks about your housing and living expenses.

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Documentation and Interviews

You'll need to fax, mail or upload the documents needed, such as paystubs or W-2 forms. If you're applying for a minor child with a parent absent from the household, you'll need to cooperate with child support enforcement if you aren't currently receiving child support. Your caseworker may request a phone interview if additional information or clarification is needed. According to the Florida Department of Children and Families, it can take up to 30 days to process an application. You can check the status of your application using the ACCESS Florida system online, or over the phone by calling 1-866-762-2237.

Other Ways to Apply

If you don't own a computer at home, you can visit an ACCESS Florida local service center to apply for benefits online. You also can download and print the application online and mail, fax or deliver it to your local service center or community partner agency. You can search for local service centers and partner agencies in your area at MyFlorida.com. Some of the partner agencies include health departments, medical centers and charities.

About the Author

Jeannine Mancini, a Florida native, has been writing business and personal finance articles since 2003. Her articles have been published in the Florida Today and Orlando Sentinel. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies from the University of Central Florida.

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